Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.
OR, WHY LIMITING NON-RESIDENT STUDENTS IS VERY IMPORTANT
This is the 2nd in my series on Questioning "sadly mistaken when it comes to the facts" regarding the referendum.
Following the order of the HSST member's comments, she notes that "libraries will be expanded for the academic need (currently students can't get into the libraries to do research if a class is using the space)."
Now the first question I am asking myself is, what classes are the libraries being used for on a daily basis that prohibit a student from quietly searching the shelves or using a library computer? A regular class size ranges from 18 to 30 students for the most part. Fact Sheet 19 from last year shows a photo of East's library. In a note to the side it states:
In modern libraries entire classes are brought in to conduct web-based literary and scientific research...Often two classes are being taught computer-based research simultaneously. In Elmbrook, this space is not separated from the traditional study areas...
Notice, it says "Often two classes". If you click the Fact Sheet 19 link, you see a color photo of East's library. I counted 50 computer stations in that sea of desks (there might be more beyond what the photo shows). Depending on the class size, even if there were those 2 classes in there "often" times, the student count would be 36 - 60. It still seems a student or two extra could be accommodated to quietly do their own research.
Is the library space conflict a result of lack of planning on the teachers part? If separate areas are desired, could they use those office cube walls that businesses use for privacy?
My second question is, what is a student doing roaming about during school hours anyway? It has been a while since I was in high school. Are students free to roam about when not in a class? If they are, Central students could go to the Brookfield Library if they are permitted to leave campus.
But my questions aside, this points to how the non-resident student population causes problems for our own resident students.
If space is at such a premium that it is driving this referendum, shouldn't we really analyze what our schools would look like without the extra non-resident students before we build?
UPDATE: I am not sure what the high school's current enrollments are. I arrived just a few minutes late for the Central Tour this year and Principal LaBonte had already given that statistic. (I forgot to ask later.) According to the district website, Central is at 1,425, and East is now at 1,361 total students*, with 220 of those 2,792 combined students being non-residents.
Cindy Kilkenny's Fairly Conservative estimates the high schools to be close to 1,400 each this year.
Looking through a number of articles and other sources though suggests Central and East enrollments to be around 1,350 for this current year, according to a Dec. 2007 Freeman article, Board: With new facilities, more students could enroll:
Board members found issue with the prediction of 1,150 students total attending each high school, which is about 200 less than currently taking classes at the district high schools.
The 1,350 number is off by 11 at East, but it sounds too low for Central. If anyone knows the exact numbers at Central, please comment.
Regardless of the current enrollments, the 1,150 recommended student total for each high school came from the HSST team, a Journal article stated. And the HSST is a:
...board-commissioned group -- consisting of four residents who voted against the April referendum and three who voted in favor -- [they] recommended a $61.2 million plan to accommodate about 1,150 students who live in the district, based on projections of declining enrollment.
Districts weighing costs, benefits, is another article that speaks to the issue of fewer non resident students:
Elmbrook's situation emanated from a task force crafting a second referendum to renovate and expand Brookfield Central and East high schools.
Task force members pushed to tie the buildings' planned capacity to resident-only enrollment projections. The School Board added back a little space, but not as much as the plan rejected in last spring's referendum would have provided. And it tightened its formula to decide how many open enrollment students to accept. Its total open enrollment population - which has grown steadily since 1998, from 19 students to 441 this year - could slightly decline next fall for the first time.
So if our non-resident student numbers could decline next year, and our resident student numbers are decreasing each year because of declining enrollments, we should be gaining extra space every year. Extra space in the library should become less of an issue then too IF we hold back on the non-resident student numbers.
Central's non-resident student population this year: Open enrollment - 64, Chapter 220 - "about 2 dozen" Principal LaBonte stated during our tour. Total non-resident students at Central = "about" 88. A reader commented that the Annual Report stated non-resident high school students = 220. Possibly Central is a bit more than 2 doz? (I will update this if I get an answer.)
East's non-resident student population this year: Open enrollment - 71, Chapter 220 - 47. Total non-resident students at East = 118.
How does this impact the class sizes?
I will take East, because the numbers are known as of today. Divide the total enrollment, 1,361 by 4 grade levels = 340.25 students per grade level. Divide that 340.25 by 25 students, the average class size? = 14 (13.61) separate classes of 25 students each.
Divide the total 118 non-resident students by 4 grade levels = 30 (29.5) non-resident students / grade level. Divide that 30 students / grade level by the 14 separate classes = 2 (2.10) non-resident students per average class.
Of course the grades are not evenly distributed and the non-residents are not even through the grades either. But, you can see that non-residents do add 2 extras for some classes.
In some classes this is not a problem, but in others it is.
If the problem with the library is that we don't have room for that student who comes in from time to time to do independent research, eliminating 4 unnecessary students from those 2 classes using the library becomes important.
As with most "problems" driving this referendum, I think there could be ways to work them out within the system...if the school district would want to.
* The actual enrollment number changes throughout the school year as students move in and out of the district. East's numbers were obtained today.
ACADEMICS, NOT ATHLETICS: VOTE NO.
Elmbrook School District Referendum Links:
Former 2007 Referendum Facilities Facts Sheets (Still a good read)
The countdown continues: Just 8 days until MILLIONS OF DOLLARS Tuesday!
Email me your thoughts on the $62.2 million dollar referendum.